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Is Critique Secular?: Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech (The Townsend Papers in the Humanties)

Customer Reviews:

A must-read for anyone studying the Middle East!

By K C CAMPBELL MD - May 14, 2013

As a middle eastern Politics and International relations major, I have found this book to be an incredible resource that suggests the importance of realizing and consciously deconstructing the secular liberal framework that is so 'natural' to anyone from the west, for the ideals that secularism and free speech entail can obscure the meaning of the event or movement you are studying. I highly recommend this book to not only better understand the Danish cartoon incident and the sense of harm felt by many Muslims, but as a study of liberalism and how it shapes free speech, religion, and critique in a particular fashion. I can't recommend this work enough!

Jhaeman's Reviews

By Jeremy - October 8, 2010

In the Fall of 2007, UC-Berkeley held a symposium on the topic "Is Critique Secular?" The results have been published in a slim 153-page volume, with the subtitle of "Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech." The book consists of two main essays, "Free Speech, Blasphemy and Secular Criticism" by Talal Asad, and "Religious Reason and Secular Affect: An Incommensurable Divide?" by Saba Mahmood, plus a response by Judith Butler and then replies to Butler's response by Asad and Mahmood.

An important thing to note is that these essays are written in the style of literary criticism, and bear all of the hallmarks of that discipline (anyone who has been to panels at the Modern Language Association will know what I'm talking about): they are jargon-heavy, opaque, discursive, theory-heavy, implicitly critical of the West, and prone to leaving the reader feel like a lot of words have been expended without concrete ideas having been expressed. A subtle implication throughout, one which I... read more

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